A Longer Civil War

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by SpaceOrbisGaming, Sep 20, 2018.

  1. SpaceOrbisGaming Life long gamer and aspiring author

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    The US civil war lasted from 1861-1865. But what if it had lasted longer? How long could the south have realistically hold on for and what if anything at all would the result of that be on the US?
     
  2. Marc reformed polymath... Donor

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    I hold out for the abolition of the several Southern States, turning them back into territories, to oh about 1961. Save those who never were, they get other lessons for prolonging the death and misery of an utterly lost cause.
    Only somewhat tongue in cheek...
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2018
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  3. Anaxagoras Vox clamantis in deserto Banned

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    The South could not last much belong what it did IOTL due to obvious manpower, financial, and logistical reasons. Militarily speaking, it's amazing that they lasted as long as they did.

    If the South had achieved significantly better results before the fall of 1864 (i.e. winning a crushing victory at Gettysburg) and they are in a better military position in late 1864, then voters in the North will vote to throw out the Lincoln administration and put into place an administration either inclined to make peace or one with such political baggage that (as Lincoln himself foresaw) they would not be able to continue the war even if they wanted to.

    Either way, I don't see much of a chance for the war to continue much past the spring of 1865.
     
  4. SpaceOrbisGaming Life long gamer and aspiring author

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    To be fair I'm of the same mind as much as I love the south. However let's say the south did better in the war. In a best case scenario how long could the south have lasted. Not won as even I know that is so unlikely to happen we'll not even play with that idea.

    However if somebody wants to reply with that I would very much like to see that.
     
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  5. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    IMHO if the south has a crushing victory at Gettysburg, Sherman does not reach Atlanta, etc you might have Lincoln lose in 1864 and the south let go. Any victories not on that scale will be marginal. As was pointed out the south was out of manpower, their logistics were in the crapper and getting worse, and large areas were being occupied by gents in blue suits. The longer the war goes on, the worse off they are. The only way for the war to last longer, absent British/French direct intervention, would be for the defeated armies to have a significant portion of the defeated take to the hills and forests for a partisan war. The result of that would make the burning of Atlanta and Richmond look like planned urban renewal and you could expect any population that supported partisans to see their homes go up in smoke at a minimum.
     
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  6. Mitchell Hundred Well-Known Member

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    Isn't the most obvious answer if the south had somehow comvinced the UK or France to back them?

    Other than that they probably lasted longer than they should have.
     
  7. Captain Seafort Well-Known Member

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    European intervention in support of the CSA would have drastically shortened the war, not lengthened it - the US didn't have the wherewithal to survive the attentions of the RN.
     
  8. M79 Well-Known Member

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    I disagree, the United States had a massive industrial capacity that could be brought to bear against Canadian bases leaving the RN with Bermuda and perhaps the Bahamas as potential bases if Halifax fell. If the CSA gets European aid early enough the question becomes is the US in a position to keep up (after Gettysburg I think they might, after Chattanooga definitely).

    Perhaps the best bet for a longer war is for the US to suffer a defeat at Stone River in late 1862, another at significantly in 1863 with the draft riots and getting Cleburne to turn Missionary Ridge into a Ringgold Gap. Ideally, force the surrender of the Union army at Chattanooga and push back towards Nashville and/or southern Kentucky. With a Western theater locked in stalemate and Union resolve on the wane, the war still likely ends in a Union victory, but they'll need another Gettysburg or two to reinvigorate their efforts or risk Valladingham coming to power in 1864, who might be blocked by a Republican Congress opposed to his peace platform and creating a deadlock in the US Government.
     
  9. FillyofDelphi Banned

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    Agreed on the results, though I think your biggest worry is going to be the lose of an inflow of gold as a result of blockade/secession of trade with Europe. One of the reasons the Union was so effective at selling bonds and was able to resort to the Greenbacks with limited inflation was the gurantee that bonds would be paid in gold-backed currency, not this new fiat stuff, and that the inflow of customs provided the government with a steady stream of gold (Since the government also insisted that Greenbacks were legal tender... for everything but duties, helping avoid the "bad money chasing out good" phenominia). Take that security away, and the financial panic could easily start to set in as faith in the dollar gets shakey...

    On material terms, the war COULD have been lengthened if British involvement on the rebel side lead to Russia weighing in on the side of the Union, though that's not terribly likely. IN such a case, though, Nappy is far more likely to be neutral (since he's still trying to recover relations with the Czar) and use the longer war as an oppritunity to soldify their client regeime in Mexico. Indeed, I can see him floating French diplomatic support as a bargening chip if things go on long enough in exchange for the side he would end up backing agreeing to support Maxy.
     
  10. 606jae Well-Known Member

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    get KY and MO to join the CSA and this will lengthen to war. MD would be impossible and DE ASB but the western boarder states might be possible and it increase the souths man power industrey and depth
     
  11. SpaceOrbisGaming Life long gamer and aspiring author

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    This is my take on such a timeline. Had the south won European support such as Great Britain, France etc the US would likely cut ties to them as much as they could for a time. As they would feel betrayed and that is never good in the long run. A longer civil war that has the European powers jumping in and sided with one nation over the other would harm PR with them. At any rate no matter if the union won they would now have more debt due to the longer war and a few more eyes looking over to the other side of the pond just in case they wanted to try something. Likely the US doesn't join the same side as they did in ww1 and maybe even ww2 however I find that unlikely.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
  12. M79 Well-Known Member

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    Best case for overall maximum length is probably 1867. Assuming Price gets the rifles in St Louis and you get lukewarm Confederate support in Little Egypt, Missouri, and the bulk of Kentucky, it creates a larger Western Theater that becomes harder to crack with many siding alongside their state. Kentucky's industrial capacity was just below Virginia's at the time I think and Little Egypt (perhaps with southern Indiana if only to anger Governor Morton?) makes the Ohio River a serious concern for the Union.
     
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  13. Mike Stearns Member

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    Maybe Gettysburg doesn’t happen in TTL? People often forget that part of the significance of the Union victory at Gettysburg is that is cam only a few days after Grant captured Vicksburg. Lee had wanted a concentration of forces, but his preferred site was somewhere in the vicinity of Cashtown. Maybe he gets a battle at the site that he wanted, but the outcome is a draw instead of a decisive victory for one side or the other. Gettysburg was a significant morale booster for the Union because it proved that Lee could beaten. If the one-two punch of Vicksburg and Gettysburg is blunted is will probably result in a longer war.
     
  14. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    The rivers belonged to the Union from early on. The CSA simply could not produce significant numbers of viable riverine warcraft, whereas once the Union Navy got going they cranked out large numbers of highly effective riverine craft. Confederate shore batteries were good and making life difficult for Union ships especially at a few points (think Island #10 or Vicksburg) however this did not keep Union ships from running past, and they had their vulnerabilities. Yes, the CSA could produce an ironclad river warship or three, but these were mostly ineffective and had serious technical issues.
     
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  15. M79 Well-Known Member

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    To answer the second half of the question, a longer war means deeper divisions and probably a higher cost of rebuilding. Policies are not likely to change much but restoration of statehood could, in the extreme, go into the 1880s. A Spanish-American War will heal the nation and World War I will mend the rift further regardless of how long the war lasts.
     
  16. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    A European intervention, particularly on the part of the British, ends the war in a matter of months if not weeks as the Union runs out of gunpowder and soon thereafter lead.

    If the Army of Tennessee does successfully destroy the Federal force at Stone's River in 1862, as such very nearly occurred, would likely draw in the Anglo-French with recognition and mediation to end the war. The same holds true to likely in the case of Chattanooga.
     
  17. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    The problem with most scenarios for 1861-1863 that improve Confederate abilities is that they possess a high degree chance of actually bringing the war to an earlier conclusion by bringing in the Anglo-French. I'd thus recommend 1864 as the best the bet, but that too most be tempered by the fact that a Confederacy that smashes Sherman at Cassville or Peachetree Creek or Grant at North Anna, could result in an McClellan Presidency that could result in a shorter conflict as well as he seeks peace. You could pull an end run around this in that peace talks last into the fall of 1865, meaning the war doesn't "officially" end until after the IOTL date, but that seems cheating to me.

    Therefore, I propose a late 1864 scenario:

    1) Wheeler's Cavalry and the Georgia State Militia repeatedly had opportunities to smash up Sherman's logistics trail during the March to the Sea but failed to do so; ATL, let us presume they do so. Sherman ultimately is either forced into a situation where he's too far into the march to turn back and is without supplies, either in the Georgia interior or if he reaches Savannah still. There was a Confederates there of about 10,000 men and well dug in that historically decided to flee; I do not rate the chances highly of a starving Federal force defeating them. Either way, his forces can probably be compelled to surrender somewhere.

    This is major, as without Sherman, the Confederates can likely reinforce Fort Fisher easily enough and thus keep Wilmington open and thus supplies going to Lee. There's also the likelihood that Lee could receive reinforcements of around 10-20,000 men, which, when combined with the improved material conditions, easily extend the conflict around Richmond my many weeks if not months. As an interesting historical note, this also likely means somewhere around a few hundred to possibly a few thousand Blacks get to serve in the Confederate Army as such recruits had begun to be raised by March.

    2) No Fatal Halt at Cedar Creek in October. Early's forces were in a position to continue the assault and Gordon was pushing for such, but ultimately Early dug his feet in and such never came. Had it, the Confederate victory probably would've been complete and the Federals once again forced out of the Valley. The foodstuffs had largely already been destroyed by this point, but Early still in the Valley is going to keep Washington anxious and that means Grant is going to have detail forces to screen it and to eventually launch another campaign for it.

    3) Hood and the Army of Tennessee missed an opportunity to annihilate Schofield at Spring Hill. Instead of entrenching directly along the road junction, Hood camped his army on the side of it and the Federals passed by unmolested, leading to the disastrous Battle of Franklin the next day. Had Hood entrenched his forces, it would've resulted in a reverse Franklin that destroy's Schofields command. Without this force and the disaster of Franklin, Hood's Army can proceed to Nashville where they now face a numerically equal force, but one much less experienced than their Confederate counterparts and containing, for example, a force of Federal Cav without horses. George Thomas is definitely Hood's better, but the correlation of forces is in favor of Hood. IIRC, John Logan was dispatched with orders to replace Thomas and attack immediately IOTL, and here this might occur as Washington becomes anxious. In such a situation, I firmly give the advantage to the Confederates, as entrenched and veteran troops facing equal numbers would not go well for the Federals. In the aftermath of such an engagement there is a serious chance Hood could re-take Nashville.

    Alternatively, Hood could, as Grant feared he would, go around Nashville and slip into Kentucky. Such definitely would force Grant to detach several Corps to the West and extend things out around Richmond farther. More disastrously, he takes Nashville and then does a Kentucky invasion. Such effectively restores the Western Theater to where it was in late 1862.

    With these changes, it's entirely possible the war lasts into the Fall of 1865, if not into 1866 in earnest; the Confederate Government slipping into Texas definitely could make the 1866 option more viable as that Department was still steady until the very end for the most part.
     
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  18. SpaceOrbisGaming Life long gamer and aspiring author

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    Given that blacks would be fighting for the south. Even if in such low number as a few 100 to a few 1,000. Would this help in any way with how blacks would be treated in post-war south? Even if the south was pro-slave nobody who saw a black man in gray fighting along side whites can say they lack any courage. It may not be all that much better but with a longer war the south may have used blacks and if so could help with how they are treated.
     
  19. Marc reformed polymath... Donor

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    Largest problem with John Bell Hood is theat he is one of the best military examples of the Peter Principle: In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. To count on him to effectively command an army is near ASB - and to give him some credit, the pathetic soul knew it.
     
  20. M79 Well-Known Member

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    Hood taking Nashville probably means he lets Cleburne lead the battle and stays home sick/wounded/etc. Chattanooga falling with encirclement of the Union forces does not mean the war necessarily ends early as another Union force can be moved into the area before all of Tennessee is lost, but it will likely extend the war and reinvigorate the South. Without a victory on Union soil I do not see Europe intervening, not unless there is a grand defeat in Virginia with Washington either in Confederate hands or besieged and its fall appearing imminent.